“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth?” Book of Job, Chapter 41
Even the Bible speaks of dragons, so how could they not be true? They are one of the most popular mythological creatures; known in cultures, from the America’s to China.
While it isn’t clear when dragon stories first appeared, flying serpents were described by ancient Greeks and Sumarians. The word dragon comes from the Greek word draconta which means, “to watch” following the idea that dragons typically guard treasure or perhaps are themselves a treasure to be possessed by the brave souls who would seek to vanquish them.
Yet for much of ancient history dragons were just like any other exotic animal, sometimes useful, protective and sometimes fierce and dangerous but that all changed with the advent of Christianity. The devil was often in the form of a dragon to be vanquished by the righteous and godly saints. St. George the Dragon Slayer rescues the fair maiden thereby converting the witnesses to Christianity. Never mind that the self same story was mentioned in the legend of St. Columba in Scotland’s Ness river.
The fire breathing feature in some dragon’s came from medieval depictions of the mouth of hell, so if you believed in hell and Satan, then it was only logical you would believe in dragons.
Types of dragon’s abound, some are giant snakes, hydras, gargoyles; some have wings others don’t, some are a few feet long, others miles and they come from many diverse cultures which are represented in their forms. In India they have the head of an elephant, in the middle east that of a lion or bird of prey. While each culture represents dragons from their specific viewpoint they all represent an archetype, or deep seated element in our psyche; a powerful, fearsome opponent which does not interact with humans (except of course in animated films) like trolls, elves and fairies do.
Perhaps the dragon myth has roots in reality, people would unearth enormous dinosaur bones and without science to say differently, they assumed they were dragon bones. Or the Komodo dragons, people would return from Indonesia describing the formidable lizards.
Actual miniature dragon looking creatures have been found, so imagine if they were a thousand time bigger.
There may be seeds of truth in all mythology, whether it’s a combination of extinct animals that are foreign to us, or an amalgamation of animals we either fear or revere. Dragons continue to live in our fantasy and perhaps that is the best place for them, for who in this day and age would really like to meet one?